Focus on the Family Needs to go Back to the Future

Just prior to the recent presidential election, Focus on the Family Action, the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, an organization founded by evangelical Christian Dr. James Dobson posted an imaginative letter entitled, “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America.”  In this hyperbolic letter, the fictional writer lays out a “possible” scenario of what the United States would look like if Senator Barak Obama was elected President of the United States and both houses of Congress were to be run by the Democrats.  Here are some of the proposed scenarios according to Christianity Today:

-The Supreme Court would lean liberal
-Churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status
-“under God” in the Pledge would be declared unconstitutional
-Doctors and nurses who won’t perform abortions will no longer be able to deliver babies
-Pornography would be openly displayed on newsstands
-Inner-city crime increases when gun ownership is restricted
-Homeschooling would become restricted, so thousands of homeschooling parents emigrate to other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
– “Since 2009, terrorist bombs have exploded in two large and two small U.S. cities, killing
hundreds, and the entire country is fearful, for no place seems safe.”
-Euthanasia is becoming more and more common.
-New carbon emission standards drive many coal-powered electric plants out of business. “The country has less total electric power available than in 2008, and periodic blackouts to conserve energy occur on a regular schedule throughout the nation.”

“After many of these decisions, especially those that restricted religious speech in public places, President Obama publicly expressed strong personal disapproval of the decision and said that the Supreme Court had gone far beyond what he ever expected,” the letter reads.

It suggests that younger evangelicals were the tipping point for Obama’s pretend victory.

“Many Christians voted for Obama – younger evangelicals actually provided him with the needed margin to defeat John McCain – but they didn’t think he would really follow through on the far-Left policies that had marked his career. They were wrong,” the letter says.

The author also proposes that every conservative talk show would have to be followed by an instant rebuttal to the program by a liberal “watchdog” group and eventually shut down by 2010. Another hypothetical scenario is that because no Christian is willing to write books critical of homosexuality, many Christian publishers go out of business.

The author suggests that Bush administration officials who had involvement with the Iraq war would be put in jail.

The author writes, “Many brave Christian men and women tried to resist these laws, and some Christian legal agencies tried to defend them, but they couldn’t resist the power of a 6-3 liberal majority on the Supreme Court. It seems many of the bravest ones went to jail or were driven to bankruptcy. And many of their reputations have been destroyed by a relentless press and the endless repetition of false accusations.”

Upon reading this apocalyptic, I thought it might be good to consider another scenario, based in the same factitious quality and tone.  Using another time machine, I chose to take us back to the year 2000,  specifically on November 6th, the day before the election that saw Texas governor George Bush running against Vice-President Al Gore.  Keeping with the spirit of the recent Focus on the Family letter, just imagine if someone, possibly one of those Democratic operatives, were to have written another pretend letter called, “Letter from 2008 in Bush’s America.”  How would those supporting George Bush have reacted?

Perhaps, the 2000 letter would suggest some crazy scenarios like the following.  Just imagine.

If Republian George W. Bush is elected, America will begin a dramatic decline toward chaos not seen since the Great Depression and an obvious manifestation of God withdrawing His hand of protection and favor from this country.  During the next eight years, if George Bush is elected and reelected, the following conditions will occur:

Within a year of his election, the United States will experience the greatest attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor.  This terrorist attack will be against the symbols of US economic and military might, in New York and in Washington, DC.    In response to these attacks, President Bush will launch a massive propaganda campaign that will propel the nation into two wars resulting in the deaths of over 4,500 troops and over 30,000 wounded service personnel.  Aside from these physical casualties to our men and women in uniform, the US taxpayer will foot the bill to the tune of about $600 Billion directly and by extension, about $3 Trillion. This war will become the longest in US history and least supported since the Vietnam War.

In an attempt to keep their eye on terrorists, the Bush administration will move to allow domestic espionage, opening all kinds of opportunities for spying on citizens, some for their religious affiliations.  This action will allow the National Security Agency and others to conduct secret and illegal wiretapping and spying operation against the people of the United States all in the name of national security.

On the economic front, the Bush administration will pass a tax cut that will favor the wealthiest taxpayers and at the same time increase spending at an alarming rate.  The surplus he inherited from President Bill Clinton will turn into the biggest deficit in national history and as a result, the national debt will rise dramatically.  During George W. Bush’s presidency, the national debt will grow by more than $4 trillion. It will be the biggest increase under any president in U.S history.  On the day President Bush takes office, the national debt will stand at $5.727 trillion. By his last year in office, the national debt will stand at more than $9.849 trillion. That’s a 71.9 percent increase on Mr. Bush’s watch.

Toward the end of his second term, with two wars still being fought, the US housing and mortgage industry will suffer a huge deflation leading to millions of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and the collapse of many large institutional banks and brokerages.  This will require the US Congress to bailout the lending industry, adding about another trillion dollars of debt to the US Taxpayer. Other world economies will suffer equally. Also, during that time, even though George Bush is an oilman, his expertise will not prevent the cost of gasoline and other oil products from more than doubling in his final year.  George Bush’s friends in the petroleum industry will see record-setting profits, while hundreds of business fail due to the high price of energy.  His slogan, “Compassionate Conservatism” will sound quite hollow.

In the midst of Bush’s terms, natural disasters will occur, but due to the weakness of his government, many will suffer for lack of critical government services.  George Bush will be seen as a reactive president, not prepared for the future.

By the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, he will have garnered the highest disapproval rating in modern history.  Due to that in part, a Democratic candidate will win the 2008 election and will be joined by a large majority of Democrats in the Congress and Senate.  States that are normally seen as safe Republican bets will reject the Republican Party, some for the first time in decades.

Although these predictions are only possible scenarios and may seem far-fetched to the rational mind, there is always the possibility, given the character of George Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney that such things could, in fact, occur on George Bush’s watch.  Therefore, be prayerful about your vote.

The sad thing is that there are those who would readily consider and actually believe the 2012 Focus letter, but if they were back in 2000 reading the letter above, would call it a hateful, liberal diatribe, or more directly, an absolute, groundless lie.  To them I would say, “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”

I know I shouldn’t have to say anything, but there are those folks who won’t see the obvious.  So let me clean it up.  In the 2012 letter, Focus on the Family Active is predicting some very dire circumstance to an Obama presidency.  All this without the benefit of God’s stamp of approval.  No one is saying, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Therefore, the predictions should be seen as merely the creation of a fearful mind, not one that relies on the scripture that declares that, “All things work together for good, to them who love God and are called to His purpose.”  Christian should fear not, but be courageous.  The 2012 letter on the other hand is a profession of fear, discord, and faithlessness.  Not one of a sound mind, unity, and faith in the living God.

It has become very clear to me that the actions of Focus on the Family Action is evidence of a para-church organization that is set adrift from the Living Word of God.  Winning the culture wars seem to be tactically, an anything-goes methodology instead of being tethered to the moral code of Christ’s example.  I think the 2012 letter is reprehensible and Focus on the Family should repent for its dissemination.

As for my personal prediction for 2012, I see more Christians relying less on the leadership of the likes of James Dobson, and more on the power of real prayer and love for enemies, real and perceived.

Related Articles”

James Dobson, you owe America an apology – Jim Wallis

A Biblical View of Political Responsibility

georgewashingtonprayingIn my last post, Revisting the Formula for Healing the Nation, I provided the road map outlined in scripture that gives Christians directions to bringing the nation to God.  In the following video, featuring Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendant of the Assemblies, Dr. Wood gives five points of biblical direction for Christians relative to their engagement in politics and public life.  I think it is right on and critical to moving the Church away from relying on the carnal weapons of the world system and toward an authentic Christian lifestyle that gives light to the world’s darkeness.

Obama and McCain – Looking for the Christian’s Password

Observing Barak Obama and John McCain’s attempts to lure the American religious communities reminds me of a scene in the 1995 film Babe written by Dick King-Smith where Babe, the pig, seeks to find just the right words to be able to herd the sheep during the annual sheepdog competition. The problem for Babe was that he wasn’t a sheepdog at all, but a pig! Nevertheless, because of the confidence his owner, Farmer Hoggett had shown in him and the capability and competence he had previously demonstrated with the sheep back home, Farmer Hoggett believed that he had a chance to do well in the trials. The challenge for Babe was trying to work a herd of sheep that didn’t know him nor he them. He had to find the secret to connecting with the herd, and quick.

The reason Babe was in the trials in the first place was due to a series of strange circumstances and set of anomalies in his upbringing. Unlike other pigs, Babe had been adopted by a sheepdog. That unique factor created an opportunity for Babe to develop his skills to herding sheep. The name of his adoptive mother sheepdog was Fly, and soon thereafter, Fly begins to train the pig in the ways of a sheepdog. She explains to Babe that sheep are stupid animals and that dogs are smart animals. It’s the dog’s job to dominate the sheep in order to have them perform the farmer’s bidding. One day, however, a sheep named Ma takes sick and is kept in the barn for treatment. Babe meets her and becomes her friend and knows that she is not stupid and knows that he can treat her respectfully.

As time goes by, Farmer Hoggett begins to notice the strange behavior of this pig raised by a sheepdog. One day, Mr. Hoggett takes the pig out to the field in order to see if the pig can be a sheep-pig. Babe, though he is slow, follows orders perfectly. Also, since Babe is so polite and has made a friendship with Ma, the sheep are perfectly willing to obey his requests. They much prefer his manners to Fly’s barking and commands. The farmer continues using Babe to do much of the farm work. One day, though, two dogs attack the sheep. Babe hears their cries and races to the field to save them. Once Farmer Hoggett arrives at the field, he finds Babe with a bloody snout standing over a dead sheep that the dogs had killed. Farmer Hoggett thinks that Babe has attacked the sheep and decides to kill him. Babe is saved, however, when Mrs. Hoggett receives a call warning of two dangerous dogs in the area. Farmer Hoggett realizes then that Babe actually saved his sheep.

Farmer Hoggett then proceeds with his plan to enter Babe in the sheepdog trials. He trains his beloved pig how to guide the sheep quickly and accurately through a course. Fly watched Babe’s progress delightedly, but she worries that the sheep at the trials will not be able to communicate with Babe. Fly has learned some new respect for the sheep since she has witnessed Babe’s interactions with them. She asks them about this potential problem, and the sheep tell her a password that will help Babe to communicate with the sheep at the trials. The magic words that commanded the sheep’s obedience was,

“May be ewe, may be ram, may be mutton, may be lamb, but on the hoof or on the hook, I bain’t so stupid as I look”

Those words tell a lot. The sheep were looking for respect and mutual respect would be the reward. This is secret that gave Babe and Farmer Hoggett an unprecedented victory at the trials, stunning the mocking crowd.

Like Babe, Obama and McCain have been looking for the password that will appeal to the sensibilities and beliefs of the faith community in America. The problem for them however, is that many, if not most on the right side of the theological ledger aren’t buying it. Or, at least they are very skeptical. And rightly they should be. After the revelations of the George Bush administration’s use of faith-based initiatives as a bait-and-switch tactic in appealing to the Religious Right, many in that sector have jaundiced eyes toward any politician using faith as an appeal point.

In my view, God’s Kingdom, at least the one Jesus spoke of in his Sermon on the Mount, is not based on a faith in man nor the ways of the world. Politics, although interesting and often alluring, is not the way to see true peace in the world. Any Christian who gets in the saddle of politics will find his or herself in a corral of enmity, division and contention. These are the works of the flesh, in other words, the world. If the truth of the Gospel is taking a second seat to political expediency, that faith is in vain, built upon the sand. If Jesus had thought politics would bring about peace, justice, and joy, he would have enjoined the political process. The reality is that these things are rooted in the condition of the heart, something politics is totally incapable of providing. Nevertheless, if you are a believer and hold to the idea that either Barak Obama or John McCain can lead the nation toward these legitimately sought after ideals, you should remember that these men and their political policies will only lead you to more empty promises. They certainly have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it. – 2 Timothy 3:5

But here’s the real caveat for anyone seeking political solutions to spiritual problems offered by politicians. It is found in the two verses following 2 Timothy 3:5. ” They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” In a nutshell, desperate people who don’t put their faith in God but in man will be deceived, never coming to the truth that sets free.

Related Reading:

Evangelical Expose: Bush’s Faith-based Fraud

The Obama Snooker

Reed Urges McCain to Appeal to Evangelical Flock

Christian Politics in the 21st Century

Taking America Back for God

During a recent “Speaking of Faith” radio program, Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne discuss whether there is a “Christian” way to vote. Here’s the segment. To see the complete episode of “Speaking on Faith”, click on the link below the video.

Speaking of Faith

The Content of Jesse Jackson’s Character

Tell us what you really think Jesse!

For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal.” These were the words the Reverend Jesse Jackson used to apologize for what CNN characterized as “vulgar” comments made by Jackson against the presumptive Democratic nominee Barak Obama for a speech Obama made in a black church on Father’s Day. (Read the speech here). Jackson said he was “very distressed” that his foul remarks became public because he supports the White House bid of Obama, a fellow Chicagoan. It happened, he said, when a fellow guest on a Fox News show last Sunday asked him about Obama’s speeches at black churches. Fox News captured Jackson criticizing presidential candidate Barack Obama for talking down to blacks on the issue of fatherhood. Not knowing the microphone was still live, Jackson said,

See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off.

Apparently, not catering to Jackson’s style of bringing racial equality to the country creates a risk of loosing one’s family jewels. I know that Jackson is passionate about racial justice and all that, but he really needs to take a sabbatical or something. He went way over the top in these comments. Not only were they less than “reverend-like”, but I get the sense that Jesse Jackson’s discomfort with Barak Obama has more to do with pride and position than anything else. Some suggest it’s that green-eyed monster – jealousy raising it’s ugly head. One commentator noted,

It’s called jealousy. Barack Obama is everything Jesse wanted to be to America, but somehow came up short. Now, he has to watch a younger, far more talented, man of color take the reins

Face it, Jackson is yesterday’s news and with Obama within reach of achieving what Jackson couldn’t acquire in 1984 and 1988 when he ran for president, Jackson can’t admit his confrontational race-baiting style of politics has failed to produce the equality he says he seeks.

But are we to believe that all this “hate speech” by Jackson was jealousy, or his way of venting over Obama’s disassociation with Jackson’s race-baiting policies, or could it be even something more calculated and dubious? What I mean is it possible that this was really all set up between Jackson and the Obama campaign as a way to endear fence-sitting moderates and some conservatives to see Obama as a balanced statesman verses the “radical” Jesse Jackson? That image would surely be a definite benefit for Obama, seeking to appear more mainstream. As Newsweek commentator, Howard Fineman noted, “What better way to prove your mainstream bona fides with white conservative voters than to be criticized by Jackson?” (Read his article here). Even Biko Baker, an African-American journalist and activist suggested such a nefarious scheme. (Read his blog here).

Whatever the true reason for Jackson’s vulgar outburst, one thing I can’t help but see in all this is another facet of Jackson being untethered from the faith he claims. That is, the Christian faith. Although I think his commitment to social and racial justice is commendable and of the highest tradition of Christian activism, I would suggest that his faith is clearly adrift in a sea of unChristlike conviction, behavior and conversation. His fruit is showing.

In context, Jackson’s reasoning for saying what he said was that, while he agrees with Obama’s arguments that blacks must do more to improve their lot, “the moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care.” Let me get this right. So, because Obama, who has in fact, often promoted the broad moral message that Jackson insisted on making, didn’t quite say it the way Jackson would say it, that, somehow merits Obama deserving to be castrated? Anyone in their right mind, (not Jeremiah Wright) has got to notice that Jesse probably needs, at least, some anger management training. There is just no way he can legitimize or sanction his frustration at Obama’s apparent lack of a “broader moral message” by suggesting such a barbaric penalty. It was, pardon the pun, hitting below the belt. But not only was it that, but it was totally baseless. As Obama spokesman Bill Burton stated,

As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives. He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology.

What I find so disturbing about this whole deal is that it brings into focus how politics undermines the true gospel of Christ. The gospel is redemptive because it provides a savior who forgives, yet demands that we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.” Love of God demands that we are obedient to Him, showing our love for God by showing it to others, friends and enemies alike. If Barak Obama and Jesse Jackson really want to be witnesses of God’s grace, there’s no better time than the present to start practicing it.

My religion obligates me to be political, to seek to do God’s will and allow the spiritual word to become concrete justice and dwell among us. Religion should use you politically to do public service. Politics should not misuse religion. When the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, that’s called good religion. – Rev. Jesse Jackson

Related Articles:

Jesse Jackson takes One for the Team – Mike Gallagher

Has Jesse Jackson Become Irrelevant? – Jack Cafferty (CNN)

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rebuts Dad – Lynn Sweet

Jesse Jackson’s Liberal Jesus – LaShawn Barber

Before Threatening Obama’s ‘Nuts,’ Jesse Jackson Dissed Faith-Based Projects

Why Jesse Jackson attacked Barack Obama – Daniel Finkelstein of The Times

Jesse Jackson, Figure of the Past – Michael Reagan

Obama, McCain and the Ninth Commandment

The perennial dilemma I run into every political season is the conflict that comes with one’s duty to participate in America’s future by voting, while at the same time having to hold my nose over the choices. It’s a blessing to live in a democracy, yet a curse to have to choose between “the lesser of two evils.” Such is the case for me in this year’s presidential contest as well. As time passes through the summer months, and the last day of the Bush/Cheney debacle nears, (Check out the Bush Countdown Clock here) I’m not feeling very comfortable with what I’m discovering about both candidates and their campaigns. In the cases of both Barak Obama and John McCain, one can very simply find too many examples of misrepresentations, outright lies, and bearing false witness against each other. That last one, bearing false witness is #9 on God’s Top Ten list. You know… the Ten Commandments. Unlike lies and misrepresentations of one’s own actions, ideas and policies, bearing false witness is an act of free will that is meant to destroy the character, status, and future of another. McCain does it. Obama does it.

Although I won’t address any of the specific charges against these two men in this post, I prefer to focus on the Ninth Commandment and it’s application in daily life, and most specifically, in the realm of politics. To start let’s look at the commandment in its context. We find the specific commandment in Exodus 20:16 where it states,

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Many people assume the scripture is merely talking about lying. While there are many caveats against telling lies, this one has to do specifically with lies against another person. Contextually it fits well with the general thrust of all the other commandments and is congruous to the command that Christ gave when he summed up the ten commandments into two basic motivations. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:30-31) Although it is obvious that the ninth commandment applies specifically to our love of neighbor, it is thoroughly accordant to the love of god as well. As the Apostle John noted, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) Simply stated, our love of our neighbor is the tangible measuring stick to mark our love of God. It would seem by this standard that it would be hard to certify that Barak and John, both professing Christians, are passing the test of the kind of change (aka repentance) that is the required evidence of true salvation. It seems that political expediency has won the day over honest profession of faith. It’s pretty upsetting. If anything, Obama and McCain are bearing a true witness to their lack of credible faithfulness to the Word of God. One writer concerned with this contridiction noted it this way:

    …most of us are disenchanted with governing officials. Why? Because so many of them promise one thing on the campaign trail and then, once they’re in office, fail to fulfill their word. Not only do they make promises that, in all likelihood, they have no intention of carrying out, they spend a lot of their time and money bashing their opponent. Or if you will, breaking the ninth commandment of God. Just think, if the ninth commandment were in force what sort of changes we would see in the smear campaigns that pass for politics!

    If God’s law against bearing false witness were in full effect there would be no more ‘cover ups’. No group mentality where one segment of the populace, be it cultural, political, medical or even religious, felt it necessary to cover the facts in order to ‘protect their own’. Everyone would be honest and straight forward.

Good point. Nevertheless, it seems inherent in American politics that ad hominem attacks, smears, and personal bashings are the rule and not necessarily the exception. I’ve even heard professing Christians laud the use of such tactics, claiming the ends justify the means. If that were true, why do we need the commandments anyway. It’s all relative, isn’t it? Sadly, and I can’t pass this up, many Christians are actually doing the Devil’s bidding by engaging in and encouraging such behavior. In a word what they’re doing is EVIL. That’s right, evil. I use the word because I know what it means. (More about this in my next blog).

In a previous post titled, “Are You Doing the Devil’s Business” I submitted that a true test of whether God’s presence was having affect (CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN) in one’s own life was determined simply by which side of the blame game you fell on. As I’ve said before.

The work of Jesus was to be our advocate. The work of Satan is to be our accuser. Which one do you model?

In John 8:43-44 Christ says Satan is a murderer and liar. Jesus says of Himself that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). As a liar and murderer, Satan is the exact opposite of “the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Christ is the truth, Satan is a liar. Christ is the life, Satan is a murderer-one who takes away life. The thing about bearing false witness is that it is contrary to the truth and of the nature of Satan.

If our two major party candidates continue to claim a moral high road and specifically a relationship with Christ, then a good place to begin to show it is with how they characterize each other. They should continue to argue the facts of policy and account for their own political decisions. The same should holds true for their campaign surrogates and staff as well. That would really take some leadership. It’s the kind of straight talk and change I could believe in.

At this moment in history, or for that matter, any political contest, Americans should demand that their candidates exhibit respect for each other and a credible witness of civility. Moreover, Christian Americans, should not only demand it from their candidates, but of themselves as well. For many of them, that means that they will have to shut their favorite radio talk show hosts off and any other pundit or “prophet” who doesn’t show a commitment to the biblical axiom found in Philippians 4:8,

“whatever things are true, whatever things have honor, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things.”

When you have a steady diet of Limbaugh, Hannity, and O’Reilly on the right, or Combs, Goodman, and Maher on the left, there’s no way you can be following the principles listed in the above verse. Listening to these folks on a regular basis will paralyze your faith. Like the children’s song says, “be careful little ears what you hear.” It’s simple and wise.

If there’s anything a Christian can do during this political season it’s this:

If you’ve been bearing false witness or propagating false rumors and gossip about any candidate, repent of it.

Pray for each candidate and their families. One of them will be the leader of the nation on January 20, 2009. Get in the habit now!

Write the candidates and their campaigns, urging them to abide by the highest ideals of civility, respect, and Christian brotherhood. Remind them of their role model responsibilities and their witness as professing Christians.

Send letters and cards which reflect your blessings on them. Tell them you are praying for them and asking God to protect them and bless them with His wisdom. And,

Encourage others to do the same (especially if your pastor or Christian leader isn ‘t doing it).

As I pointed out before, come January 20th of next year, either Obama or McCain will be sworn in as the next president of the United States. If you are a Christian, it is mandated that you pray for your leaders, whether you like them or not.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

If you actually believe the Bible is the Word of God then you may deduce from the scripture above that the reason we live less than peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness may just be because there isn’t much fervent and effectual prayer being offered up for our leaders (and others, as well). Instead, the contemporary church in America has chosen the path of least resistance to curse instead of bless. No wonder we’re in this mess.

For over 25 years now, many Christians have cited 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the remedy for the nation’s ills. Even though I see the value of this scripture as being axiomatic to healing the nation, I also believe that too many Christians have failed to see that the health of the nation is dependent on the holiness of God’s people, “those called by His name,” not those outside the faith. It’s pretty clear.

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Well, there it is in a nutshell. Our nation’s well-being, safety, and security are totally dependent, not on political figures or radio talk-show hosts, but upon the faithful being faithful. We should encourage each other to follow the model laid out in the scripture’s above. As on of my favorite verses directs,

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Let’s follow these principle’s and encourage our politicians to do the same. If we can’t stomach their policies, at least we can choose to love our enemies.

Related Articles:

Obama Lies shamelessly about McCain – Hot Air

Distorting Obama – Newsweek

Factcheck.org

Obama – McCain Comparisons

John McCain Official Website

Barak Obama Official Website

Eminent Domain Abuse is Statutory Rape

Statutory – Enacted, regulated, or authorized by statute.

Rape – To seize, take, or carry off by force.

This past Saturday, June 21, 2008, my wife and I got together with a bunch of local folks and fellow activists to celebrate the relocation, reconstruction and dedication of Susette Kelo’s little pink house, the one made famous by the infamously, abominable US Supreme Court decision that essentially gutted constitutional protection for individual property rights. Even with the backdrop of a supposed “lost cause” the celebration was wonderful in its simplicity and its metaphors. More on that, later.

June 23, 2008 marks the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision which affirmed both the federal, state and local government’s power to condemn and seize private property and give it to another private party, the justification being “economic development.” In the words of former Justice Sandra Day-O’Connor, “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.” In the case of Kelo, the City of New London, gave its power of eminent domain to a non-elected quasi-public, non-profit organization, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) to seize private property in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood as a means to to proceed with a large-scale plan to replace a faded residential neighborhood with office space for research and development, a conference hotel, new residences and a pedestrian “riverwalk” along the Thames River. Today, three years after the decision, there has been no new construction. There is a great crop of weeds growing there, though. I guess that makes it a greenfield instead of a brownfield, right?

Although I have a lot more to say on the subject regarding the eminent domain fight in Fort Trumbull (I was the corresponding secretary for the Coalition to Save Fort Trumbull Neighborhood) I really want to focus for the time being on two questions considered by most people I’ve talked to on the subject and are reflected in Carla Main’s insightful and moving book, “Bulldozed”. In a RealClearPolitcs review of her book, Main looks at two questions. They are, first; “How the heck did we get to this point?” and secondly, after reading about some little, old lady getting kicked to the curb, “Who are these people? Who would do this sort of thing?”

These are two great questions to ask in considering how the State of Connecticut, the City of New London, and the NLDC gave us this colossal legal, political, and economic mess. Unfortunately, they had a little help from a citizenry that was caught sleeping. We got to this point initially because we were being shoveled a tidal wave of glowing fantasies that fed into a void of political leadership along with hunger for a more diverse and sustainable economy. As much has been made of how the city of New London had been down on its heels, it was logical that the locals were ready for a major course correction, reversing the direction and trends the city had been moving in. In 1997 the city, was deemed a distressed municipality needing a massive infusion of grand list vitality. It was a fact back then that 54% of the properties in the city were tax-exempt and there was very little land available for development. So, in that environment and on the heels of Pfizer Corporation’s February 1998 announcement that their new “world-class, state-of-the-art” Global Research facility was being proposed for an abandoned site just south of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, most of the residents in this seaside, maritime community believed their ship had come in. Tax dollars and an wave of new-found pride would overwhelm the decades-old malaise that had paralyzed the city and finally, New London would be reborn! Add to this mix a visionary in the form of Claire Gaudiani, president of Connecticut College and NLDC promising to turn the windblown, empty streets of New London into a thriving enclave of students, scientists, artists, and upwardly-mobile professionals. She promised lattes, ferries, parks, and, lest we forget…more trees! In the words of Guadiani, this transformation would result in New London becoming a “hip, little city.”

With the NLDC ramping up their PR efforts for a “new” New London and Pfizer’s promise of jobs, tax revenues, and a new professional culture, many New Londoners were bying into the dream. Then the details began to emerge. It was all laid out nicely in the new Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan. Remarkably, the MDP mirrored the plans that Pfizer made for the peninsula. Of course, Pfizer would deny the charge. And so would Claire Gaudiani, whose husband, David Burnett was the director of Pfizer Research University. No matter how much they denied it, Pfizer was the “elephant in the room” when it came to why the Fort Trumbull neighborhood was to be razed. Read Ted Mann’s piece on “Pfizer’s Fingerprints on the Fort Trumbull plan.”

Statutory Rape

Over the years Gaudiani and the NLDC worked over the folks in the “Fort” neighborhood, yet consistently pointed to the reasoning that they were doing everything lawfully and with care and respect. As Gaudiani stated, “The NLDC followed every jot of the Connecticut law on planning.She said they (NLDC) were not only about doing good, but doing it well. Nevertheless, the folks on the other end of her “good” weren’t doing all that well. But don’t try to convince the NLDC that their overtures were nothing more than gracious and generous. In a recent letter to the editor, former NLDC board member, Steve Percy tendered the same artful pretense when he stated, “Financial offers to property owners in the Fort Trumbull area were so financially attractive most owners accepted. Only in the case of five of the six plaintiffs in Kelo vs. New London and with two other individual property owners, was NLDC forced to use eminent domain, a decision upheld by the court.” Note Percy’s ethos. It promotes the belief that NLDC was first, generous and secondly, did everything by the books. Both of these statements are insulting considering the facts. Gaudiani, Percy and other NLDC supporters like to contend that most everyone who accepted the NLDC’s offers were happy with the offers. The fact is, (and I know this to be true because I talked to most of the residents of the Fort) a significant number did not want to sell or leave the neighborhood, but chose to do so because of the threat of eminent domain and the potential disruption of their lives due to ongoing demolition.

Considering that Percy and the NLDC were threatening eminent domain before the plan was certified (as required by law), they were violating state real estate statutes and redevelopment law. That’s a matter of public record. Yet the NLDC continues to says they did everything according to the law.

On the other point, Percy refers to the amounts offered to the homeowers as attractive offers. Gaudiani agrees and stated:

All in all, not bad. Not that money solves all problems of relocation, but thinking of the greater good of the community and the need to build a stronger tax base to help the real “little people,” I have always believed this to be a very fair settlement process. Unfortunately, those who remained in the project area and chose to fight the taking in court may have a tougher time obtaining replacement property in New London. However, most of this property is rental property, not individually owned-and-occupied structures. Still, everyone still there will benefit by the decision of the state to offer them a premium to move on peacefully.

The premium Gaudiani refers to was the offer by the State of Connecticut to provide honest appraisals for the value of the properties in the Fort neighborhood. The state was obligated, now that the case was in the national public eye, to give the homeowners legitimate value to the properties Gaudiani once called, “highly marketable real estate.” The fact is that Gaudiani and the NLDC wanted the properties on the cheap, yet were marketing them as extremely valuable.

Gaudiani’s wacky utopian version of social justice is distorted when it comes to who pays for that justice. As she was heard to say, “Anything that’s working in our great nation is working because somebody left skin on the sidewalk.” Unfortunately, the skin she was referring to wasn’t going to be her’s or Percy’s, but rather the skin of the weak, the poor, the undereducated, and the desperate. These are same folks she “uses” to be the reason for the needed increase in public funds that would come from the project. In the end though, her plan of social justice is another case of unjust weights. It does not make the person leaving their skin on the sidewalk whole. That’s called justice. Although Gaudiani makes a big deal of the principal of the “common good,” she fails to properly balance it with the important standard of “equity.” This is apparent in her attempts to instruct on the constitutional provisions of eminent domain. She subscribes to an ethic that places the common good above the principle of private ownership of property. As the Fifth Amendment notes,

No person shall … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

So ultimately, if the government decides that personal property is to be seized for things such a hotel, health club, housing, a museum, a hospital, or a college, then just compensation is to be made. But what is just compensation. Consider what Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute says about it:

There is another major difficulty in these reform proposals, as well as in all talk of Eminent Domain in general, and that pertains to the muddled concept of “just compensation.”

What is economic justice? In the market, any compensation that is voluntarily agreed upon by both parties to a transaction is properly seen as just. If buyer and seller or employer and employee are both willing to make a deal, their freedom to do so, at any mutually agreeable price, is the fulfillment of justice in the world of economic exchange.

Interference with this freedom, in the form of wage or price controls, taxation, or the outright prohibition of certain goods, is an injustice, an attack on the foundations of private property and on civilization itself.

The state, unlike market participants, does not make its transactions through voluntary persuasion and bargaining, but through violence and the threat of violence. Certainly in the case of Eminent Domain — which means “supreme lordship” — we see that the victims of seized assets have never consented, otherwise a pure exchange could take place that requires no police power. No such coerced transaction can be said to entail “just compensation,” since compensation is only just when the party being compensated agrees to the deal.

Oftentimes, the state claims it is offering a “fair market value” for the property it seeks to seize, but this is a sham. The market price for something is, by definition, the price that both parties consent to. In a fair market exchange, each party gives up something he values less for something he values more, or else he wouldn’t agree to it.

It is only through such a voluntary transaction that we can determine what something’s market value is in the first place. Market value is not universal, but particular to the assets exchanged in a specific transaction. For any given piece of property, there can be no market value without market exchange.

When the state has to rely on the coercive power of Eminent Domain, it is a sure sign that the property owner is not being given something he values more in exchange for something he values less, and it is a perversion of language to describe the compensation, however high, as having anything to do with the market.

The essential dilemma and resulting irony that Gaudiani’s “common good” creates is that by advocating for eminent domain’s use in the Fort Trumbull project, she signed on to a system that victimizes those with the least ability to advocate for themselves. Put simply, when she couldn’t convince by reason, she resorted to blunt force. Fortunately, the plaintiffs in the Kelo case were lucky to have a pro bono advocate in the Institute for Justice. Otherwise Gaudiani and the NLDC would have continued the pillaging of property and personal liberties with abandon and the blessing of the law. For Gaudiani, a member of the National Council for a Civil Society, it must be quite a dilemma to see her actions in the Fort Trumbull conflict being recognized as a model of tyranny and corruption. While she promoted a civil process, her organization represented the classic conflict between aristocrats and the proletariat. In the end, the NLDC decided to use the right of a government to forcibly seize the property of those living the American Dream for a risky venture. Essentially, their act was one of “Statutory Rape.”

“Great God in Heaven, save us from the humanitarians who are generous with the lives of other people’s sons. Amen.”— Tom Eddlem, “The Non-Interventionist’s Prayer”

Related Articles:

National Center Blog – Amy Ridenour

Endgame in New London – Reason Magazine

One Giant Leap toward Fascist America – Atlas Society

Kelo-New London Aftermath – NewsBusters

New London Eminent Domain Case – OLR

New London Development Corporation Case Study

New London Property Rights Case – Institute for Justice

Eminent Latitude – Washington Post

Obama-Clinton. “Yeahhh! That’s the ticket!”

Tommy Flanagan, president of Pathological Liars Anonymous, a character created and portrayed by Jon Lovitz of Saturday Night Live would tell the most amazing lies to show his importance. He would end many of his outlandish prevarications with the perfidious summation, “Yeahhh! That’s the ticket!” With the latest talk of a “dream team” composed of Barak Obama for president and Hillary Clinton for vice-president, Tommy Flanagan would surely have a field day with Obama’s campaign slogan, “Change We Can Believe In.” With Hillary Clinton on the ticket, I can hear him say, yeahhh, that’s the ticket.

Although I know quite a few friends and associates of mine who voted for Obama just to cast a vote against Hillary Clinton, I chose not to go down that road. In fact, after I had taken ABC’s really cool Match-O-Matic political quiz to fit me with the candidate who’s positions are most like my own, the candidate I was matched with was none other than…Hillary Clinton. I was a bit surprised and curious, but nevertheless, I was not persuaded at all to throw my support behind her. For me, Hillary Clinton is a master of sleaze politics and reminds me too much of the Nixon-Agnew days. There was no way I was going to vote for her. She’s just too dirty and often reminds me of that oft repeated saying,

“Know when a politician is lying? When their lips are moving!”

Hillary Clinton’s political life has been an iconic collage of one lie and broken promise after another. Sadly, when Hillary Clinton says “let the conversation begin,” you can bet the truth will be measured against political expediency and self-promotion, smothered in exaggerated puffery. Her recent “misstatement” and “minor blip” describing her harrowing “foreign affairs” adventure in Bosnia in March 1996 was such a case. According to Clinton’s account of the Bosnia trip, she reported: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Take note of the picture below and how cool Hillary is under sniper fire. She’s the picture of composure and quiet resolve. I can just imagine Hillary Clinton saying something to this little girl like, “Don’t worry about the sniper fire, Darling. Your village will raise you to become the first woman president of Bosnia, breaking the gender-biased glass ceiling into a million pieces. No, not a million! I misspoke. I meant eighteen million pieces. Yeahhh. That’s the ticket! You don’t have to stay home and bake cookies and have teas. And by the way, don’t forget the value of claiming that accusations against you are merely part of a right-wing conspiracy!”

Check out these two versions of the same event. Hillary Under Fire & Hillary Not

Of course there’s a lot more. Check this sampling of related articles:

Blizzard of Lies – William Safire

Hillary Clinton: A Pathological Liar – Dana Pico

Things Worth Knowing about Hillary Clinton

As I said in the introductory paragraph, the idea that you can have “change you can believe in” with Hillary Clinton on the ticket is a falsehood. It would be one of the greatest tragedies in modern political history to see so many people rally around a cause so noble as real political change, only to see it sink in a cesspool of inner Beltway mechanics. If Barak Obama is to move the country into a new culture of positive politics, he cannot compromise with the sleaze politics most Americans abhor. Hillary Clinton is wrong for Obama’s message, his legacy, and his country.

For those advocating that Hillary Clinton become the vice president, you’re dream is already fulfilled. She is by all means, a VICE* president. “Yeahhh. That’s the ticket!”

*Vice is a practice or habit that is considered immoral, depraved, and/or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness and corruption.

Here’s the transcript of a typical Weekend Update, starring Dennis Miller and Jon Lovitz (as Tommy Flanagan) Enjoy!

The Iran-Contra Hearings this week concluded tsestimony by several witnesses, all of whom continued to incriminate Lt. Col. Oliver North. Here to respond to this testimony, is Col. North’s attorney, Mr. Thomas Flanagan, Esq.
Tommy Flanagan: Hello. I’m Tommy Flanagan. And I’m here to tell you that my client, Oliver North, is completely innocent. You know how I know? Because it was.. it was me! Yeah, that’s the tic-.. uh.. isn’t that special! [ smiles ]
See, I was working for the CIA with my wife, Morgan Fairchild.. whom I’ve slept with. And we were spies. Yeah! She was on the cover, and I was under-.. water! Yeah, that’s it! I was disguised as a fish in the Hudson River! Yeah! And I was about to bite into a worm when I was caught. Yeah! And they dsold me to the Russian Tea Room, where I was filleted and eaten. And the next thing you know, I was.. I was back in the Hudson! [ shifts eyes ]
So I got on a jet, and I flew to Switzerland with my wife, Morgan Fairchild – whom I’ve slept with. And we were gonna hide.. deposit the money, when my plane crashed in the Himalyas. Yeah, that’s it! And to stay alive, we ate the survivors. ‘Cause the dead ones were rotten! Yeah! So there I was, fighting over the tall co-pilot, with my wife, Morgan Fairchild – whom I’ve seen naked! When suddenly, the co-pilot woke up, and he kicked me in the head, and I blacked out! And the next thing you know –
Dennis Miller: Wait a minute, Tommy. What does this have to do with Col. North?
Uh…n-n-nothing! You see, that’s my point! He had nothing to do with it! Yeah, that’s the ticket!